I took the maternity photos above at 37 weeks, about a week before Vera was born. I remember thinking - I better shoot something now before time escapes me! I set up the tripod and decided to stay in my “sweatsuit” to be realistic.
My labouring began late Sunday evening. We spent the day with our friends Ben and Rhoda and funnily enough, I told everyone I thought the baby might come early. My belly was quite hard all day but without any pain or other signs, I didn’t think anything of it. We went out for a shawarma supper and parted ways with the usual “probably won’t see you till after the baby comes”.
Bran and I were watching some late night TV when I started feeling some uncomfortable cramping. In retrospect, I can see my instincts setting in. I needed to be on all fours, swaying. I stopped focusing on the TV. I dismissed the idea of labour because it was early, our condo was dissembled and dusty due to plumbing repairs, and baby couldn’t come until it was finished. (duh). I was banking on a false labour but I moved to the bathroom to “figure things out”: what I told Brandon. And I began timing contractions.
From the get-go, I was having minute long contractions about 4.5 minutes apart. I put my arms and head against the bathroom counter and swayed, swayed, swayed. Breathed, breathed, breathed. I told Bran to go to bed. False labour of course!
I drew a bath, hoping to relieve some tension. I couldn’t sit when the pressure came back so it ended up being a bit of a cold, cramped move on my part. During this counterproductive bath time, I started addressing the possibility of being in labour. I thought “if I’m in labour, I need to start embracing it”. As per Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, I started making low humming noises through the pain.
Ditching the bath, I consulted some info sheets about the stages of labour, trying to figure out where I was. It suggested resting/sleeping through contractions so I laid down only to experience the most paralyzing wave of agony of all. Lesson learned - I was past the sleeping between contractions stage.
I called my midwife Noreen around 2 am unbeknownst to Bran. Bran had told me earlier that we couldn’t call her in the middle of the night unless it was REAL. Noreen and I decided I could labour a little further on my own and to call when I felt I needed support. (Wait - I’m in labour?!?)
About an hour later Bran was up (and half our condo probably). I needed him to call Noreen. She had a 45 minute drive to our place and things were escalating. He was hesitant. Was I SURE? We now know I was entering “transition” - the most intense portion of labour in my experience. I was on the bed, on all fours, my head stuffed into a pillow. I didn't feel like I had much control during this intense point - my body took over. My arms would give out and my back would bend with the extreme pressure. And then victory! - my water broke around 4 am, just as Noreen walked through the door.
To my great delight and horror, she told me I was ready to push the baby out.
Bran frantically pumped up the birthing tub, filled it with water, and I got in. Our second midwife Jenni arrived. Noreen applied pressure to my lower back while I pushed which was PERFECT. Exactly what I needed. Jenni was a calm voice in my ear, coaching me through. Bran was cheering me on as I crushed all his hand bones.
In my own experience, pushing a baby out was as much a mental hurdle as it was physical. Eventually I just committed to doing it. I stopped making noise. I pushed silently as Jenni suggested. My memory is foggy but I think I said “GET OUT”.
Vera was born May 5th at 5:22am. The relief was immediate. I sat back against the pool wall and held her. Or held “baby” as I hadn’t even looked to see what she was yet. A girl! We were so surprised! Her sweet little cry and big open eyes.
Once we had rested for a while, Noreen and Jenni helped me to bed (I was so weak!). It was all so surreal. We had a baby all of a sudden! Bam! I could give you a hundred more details but I’ll leave it there.
I am immeasurably grateful to Noreen, my primary midwife, for being the greatest support through pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum (please deliver all my babies!!). And to Jenni, who I met with early in my pregnancy and guided me gently through labour.
Life with Vera has been SO FUN (mostly, we’re not perfect or anything). She’s 7 weeks old today and I’ll get around to sharing more thoughts and pictures soon enough.